Ten days ago I was in Rochester, MN, at the world-famous Mayo Clinic for two exciting activities: the future-thinking Mayo TRANSFORM conference, and the launch of new national healthcare crowdsourcing competition by... get this... Target! Yes, the place where you pick up great knick-knacks plus your favorite shampoo and kids' soccer cleats. More on that in a moment.


This three-day event was kicked off five years ago "in the pursuit of reimagining healthcare." As such, it aims to get healthcare leaders and designers, etc. "thinking outside the box" and features speakers from some unexpected corners, such as (this year), Daniel Lamarre, the President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil. Hey -- where could a focus on health in the workplace be more important? There was even a session titled, "How Canlogo-transform2013 Comics Help Us Understand Health?" Overall, I liked that the thrust of this conference seemed to focus on "How Do We Empower People in Their Own Care?"

Like last year, the MC of the whole program was John Hockenberry, host of NPR's live morning news program, "The Takeaway" and an Emmy-winning journalist who's a former international correspondent for NBC News. He was hit by a car while hitchhiking in 1976, paralyzing his legs, so he sits in a wheelchair. He's become a prominent figure in the disability rights movement. He also happens to be dad to five kids, including two sets of twins -- two of whom are currently teenagers. Hats off! And did I mention the man is flippin' brilliant? Watch his TED talk titled, "We Are All Designers."

Hockenberry Transform

So I was a little awestruck, needless to say. That and the fact that I was present this year to participate in a panel, moderated by John, with none other than the CEO of IDEO, Tim Brown -- quite a legendary figure in the design world. Our panel was called "Rebuild" and the aim was to "identify pain points for health care consumers and explore how retail can change the experience of care delivery." That is, there was an opening talk by Kevin Ronneberg, Associate Medical Director of Target Clinics and Pharmacy Professional Services, about ideas that Target has for helping general consumers and patients alike have better access to health products and services. Then, Tim Brown and I were asked for feedback. Tim made some great points about designing for people's in-store experience, and their experience with a brand. All I remember saying was something about how life with a chronic illness alters your perceptions on these things, and that Target's Up&Up brand is probably not the best name for a glucose meter.

But don't get me wrong: I do think it's fantastic that "retail clinics" are popping up, and that stores like Target are thinking very hard about how they can help their customers with health-related products and services. One of the hardest things about needing health and medical supplies is having to take time out of your schedule and your life to drive to a special clinic or store to get the stuff, IMHO. Let's make it all as mainstream as possible! I even plugged some of the best fun/fashion diabetes supply cases to Target. Why don't they carry that stuff in-store? At the very least, wouldn't these products be a bright spot on the shelves next to the usual drab diabetes supplies?

I was last at the TRANSFORM event in 2009, when I actually gave one of the opening keynotes, about our patient-led innovation program, the DiabetesMine Design Challenge. Back then, Mayo's innovation group was just getting off the ground. So I was blown away to get a tour this year of their new fully-decked-out Center for Innovation (CFI) with roughly 45 employees! I met one senior designer who's actually looking for concepts on solutions to help people with type 2 diabetes, so if you have any specific ideas to pass on, please leave a comment below, or email me here.

The Target Simplicity ChallengeTarget Simplicity Challenge

The other, related reason I was at TRANSFORM this year was to be part of the launch of Target's new healthcare Simplicity Challenge -- "a contest to generate ideas to simplify health care and help individuals and families live healthier lives." I'm one of 11 judges who'll pick two $25,000 winners, one in each of these categories: helping people make positive lifestyle and prevention choices, and helping people live well with a chronic condition.

God knows I'm in good company, as the judges' panel includes Tim Brown of IDEO and the Executive VP & Chief Medical Officer of UnitedHealth, among other luminaries. So why choose a patient blogger to host the kickoff #TargetSimplicity twitter chat? Target's PR folks said they really wanted the patient perspective, so you have to give 'em props for that. (Or maybe I was the only one whose schedule permitted ;) )

Target tells me they're hoping for submissions from healthcare providers and other professionals, but I've learned that some of the best ideas come from the people most closely affected.

Seriously, I am VERY EXCITED to see what kind of ideas emerge from this high-profile contest.

Submissions are being accepted through Oct. 24, 2013, and here's the promo video:

(I'm proud to say I'm told this video was somewhat inspired by ours)

To learn more about the challenge, or submit an idea, go here: www.targetsimplicitychallenge.com

Disclaimer: Content created by the Diabetes Mine team. For more details click here.


This content is created for Diabetes Mine, a consumer health blog focused on the diabetes community. The content is not medically reviewed and doesn't adhere to Healthline's editorial guidelines. For more information about Healthline's partnership with Diabetes Mine, please click here.